Sunday, February 13, 2011

USS Ronald Reagan Celebrates Namesake's 100th Birthday

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alexander Tidd
USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrated what would have been President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday Feb. 6 while underway for a joint task force excersise.

Reagan past away June 5, 2004 at the age of 93.

The ceremony featured a cake-cutting, the singing of "Happy Birthday," and speeches from Sailors personally affected by the accomplishments of Ronald Reagan throughout his lifetime.

"I was born in Transylvania Feb. 6, 1976, and first became familiar with Ronald Reagan through his western movies," said Quartermaster Seaman Ingrid Devin-Kayne. "I didn't know then that he would impact my life so greatly. To share my birthday with the man who dedicated himself to spreading democracy throughout the world means more to me than I can say."

After immigrating to America, Devin-Kayne enlisted in the Navy because she wanted to give back to her country. When the option to serve aboard USS Ronald Reagan arose, Devin-Kayne said she jumped at the chance.

"I asked to come to Ronald Reagan from 'A' school but there were no guarantees," she said. "It was the perfect place for me to be. I'm so happy to have gotten the chance."

Devin-Kayne said she has taken many lessons from the life of Ronald Reagan she now applies to her every day job on the carrier.

"He taught me to communicate with people, to learn and listen," she said. "But most of all, he taught me to fulfill what I say I will do. I like the ship's motto, "Peace through Strength," because it says exactly how to do that—to be strong but keep your cool."

Another Ronald Reagan Sailor greatly influenced by the ship's namesake is Master-at-Arms 1st Class (EXW) Kevin Fahlund, who also spoke at the ceremony.

"For me, Ronald Reagan's impact began a long time ago," he said. "I graduated high school in 1986 and joined the Navy. [Once Reagan was commissioned], I asked to come here, it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be a part of this family."

With the birth of his daughter, Fahlund made Ronald Reagan's legacy a part of his personal life also.

"I named my daughter Reagan because, as the man himself said, 'freedom is never more than one generation from extinction,'" said Fahlund.

As the crew enjoyed birthday cake in celebration of the legacy of America's 40th president, Devin-Kayne continued to reflect on Reagan's impact on her life.

"Learning English with the help of his western movies was only the beginning," she said. "He taught me that if I have a dream, to never give up. If I make a mistake, I learn from it to get better. He's the reason I'm here in the United States and I'll never forget the impact he had on my life."

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is comprised of USS Ronald Reagan, guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, which includes USS Preble (DDG 88).

Embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 includes the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, the "Argonauts" of VFA-147, the "Blue Diamonds" of VFA-146, the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.

Legendary Comic Visits Deployed Carl Vinson

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Byron C. Linder, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Public Affairs

USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors on board Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) welcomed a comedian and prop comic aboard Feb. 10 during the ship's deployment to the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Leo Gallagher, noted for his signature "Sledge-O-Matic" sketch involving smashing objects with a large mallet, made a long journey during the course of a week for his first visit to a U.S. Navy ship.

"I went to Okinawa, then to Tokyo, then I flew 11 hours to Istanbul, five hours to Bahrain and two and a half hours here. I don't know if I've been up all night or if I've had a long day," said Gallagher. "I like being on the ship. This is a floating city."

Gallagher began his first day aboard Carl Vinson meeting with Sailors in their work spaces. Gallagher finished his first day with a visit to the ship's Medical Department to observe a simulated casualty response.

Gallagher met the Sailors of Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) in the hangar bays and jet shop and then took the opportunity to meet Carl Vinson Sailors on the aft mess decks for two autograph and photo sessions Feb. 11. At , he took the stage in Hangar Bay 2 to perform his signature show with hundreds of Sailors in attendance. The hour-long routine involved jokes and Gallagher's prop comedy, with several Sailors invited on stage to participate in the sketches.

Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class (AW) Jamie Faulkner, a Joliet, Ill., native assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125, expressed his appreciation for being able to meet the comic.

"You gotta love it. It's a big morale booster to make that extra effort to make us happy," said Faulkner. "Things change with the younger generation, and to have someone who's been around as long as Gallagher was a different flavor but there's still good humor. Our day check and night check were both able to show up."

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Brandon Trusty, a Nashville, Tenn., native assigned to Weapons Department, was excited to meet a comedic influence.

"I do some stand-up comedy myself, and Gallagher was the first comedian I watched. I was nervous standing next to him and taking a picture," said Trusty. "When I was little, I just saw a guy smashing watermelons and stuff on stage, and that was cool to see. Then I got older and started listening to the jokes, and I realized what he was all about. He carries an old-school comedy style, and it's surprising how funny that can still be."

With Sailors like Trusty working to directly support Carl Vinson's air operations in Afghanistan, the opportunity to take a break and have some fun was welcome.

"For anyone, this is a morale booster. I work on the flight deck, and it's a stressful place. This is a complete break from that," said Trusty.

Gallagher expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to perform for Sailors.

"I wanted to visit some Americans who were not in America, and entertain them where they were. They're appreciative, polite, and deserve to have entertainers come out and brighten their day, so I'm out here doing my part," said Gallagher.

For Gallagher, one highlight was listening to the stories of Sailors growing up and experiencing his work.

"I like hearing they appreciate me coming out. I appreciate when they tell me they saw me when they were kids. They heard their first dirty jokes from me, or their dad used to sit with them and watch my shows. I have some new material, and I figure why make a video when I can tell it to them live," said Gallagher.

Gallagher's trip to the carrier was coordinated by Navy Entertainment. Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are deployed to the 5th Fleet AOR to support theater and maritime security operations.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.